Lockdowns. Winter. Fear. Uncertainty. Lack of motivation. Political buffoonery. All things considered, no one could ever criticize you for feeling helpless and frustrated right now.
Finding the wherewithal to push through these things, day in and day out, is no easy feat. If you haven’t yet found your motivation or reimagined your work for these times, try not to beat yourself up about it and know that we are all works in progress at this time.
However, there are some very reasonable steps you can take at a time like this so that if and when we do come out of the fog – hopefully in time for warmer climes – you will be optimally positioned to resume business operations with as little turbulence as possible.
Let’s call it a ‘Spring Refresh’ for communications managers and leaders. The following checklist is strictly focused on the fundamentals of communications, both internal and external. It is simple, achievable, and most importantly, effective.
Yes, it’s normal to feel paralyzed right now but even in stillness, there can be movement.
1. Prepare for a post-COVID world. Ask yourself: what kind of language best describes the realities of where we might be in three months? For example, the return to work and the office — one could rightly assume that coworkers might feel a sense of trepidation after working from home for the past year. How do you reassure colleagues while also mapping a path forward? For one, you want to make it clear through semi-regular internal communications that their safety and security are your top priority, and that they can rely on you to be fair, compassionate and understanding. If you offer a health plan, does it include access to mental health support resources? Whatever policies you adopt, ensure that staff are in the loop – this can be by email, in person, or through a centralized employee hub on platforms like Slack, Trello or Asana.
2. Public speaking and media coaching. Some people love public speaking, others loathe it. Whatever your feelings – and they are valid – few truly master the art of broadcasting. Before speaking publicly, ask yourself: am I always falling back on the same lines and stories? Is my tone too pessimistic, unrealistically optimistic, or too flat? Am I not emoting enough? Do I, um, sound uncertain and, uh, am I constantly searching for my words? If this sounds like you, don’t feel self-conscious. Rather, use your self-awareness to refine those skills and squash bad habits. When faced with these issues with our clients at TNKR, we point them to at least three avenues for improvement:
TNKR offers diverse and dynamic media training services and, including content or technical coaching and review sessions that can get almost anyone interview-ready in a few hours.
Self-help: there are some really fun and simple public speaking exercises that you can do on your own or with a friend. For one, tell a story. And what are the elements of a story? A beginning, a middle, and an end. How do audiences remain captivated throughout? Comedians and talk radio hosts are some of the best storytellers in the world – you can learn a lot from someone whose job it is to be interesting.
Mental Health Help: Broadcasting is very stressful work and isn’t for everyone. As my colleague Dan Delmar explores in his latest blog, even occasional, annual therapy sessions for all people leading a public life is probably a good idea, especially when lives may be at stake if communications mistakes occur.
Our partners in speech language therapy at SpeakAble SLP have the talent and credentials to help you work through any number of physical impediments holding you back, including lisps, stutters and various mispronunciation issues.
3. The post-pandemic realities of media and PR. If your business or organization depends upon earned media in any way, then it would behoove you to better understand how COVID-19 has turned the landscape inside out and upside down. All outlets, no matter the medium, are now working with fewer resources than ever before, and focusing on the most essential public health issues. There are fewer reporters, and that means less bandwidth for non-headline-making news stories. Where once you could blast out a media release across a dozen networks and reasonably expect to get back a few meaningful hits, today you may as well be dropping that PR into a black hole, never to be seen or heard from again. (TNKR offers custom consulting and content packages to help avoid any stumbles and add value to your own media properties, like your website, as you reboot operations. Ask about our Beyond 2020 Plan monthly subscription plan, now available to our existing clients.)
All of this rebuilding of a brand’s communications infrastructure might seem daunting to some. Hardly, I say. Think of it in terms of pushups: you’re not doing yourself any favours going from zero to 200 on the first day. But do 20 pushups a day for 90 days and your core strength will make you game-ready and poised for success. And what better time to start than right now?
Christopher Paré is a senior consultant with TNKR Media.